From the beginning of my marketing career, I’ve always said that THE ONE product that I never wanted to promote was a trade show.
The economy could be in the tank. Our dates could compete with another industry event. The weather might suck. So many factors out of our control can make or break the show’s success.
Remember that nagging advice you were given early in your career –never say never? Well, I had to eat my words and dive right into marketing a trade show when Adfinity was given the tremendous opportunity to help the Food Processing Suppliers Association drive attendance to PROCESS EXPO 2011.
I was frightened and excited at the same time. We could come up with a comprehensive strategy, killer creative, sign up industry-leading exhibitors, offer cutting-edge educational sessions, let people in for free and the event could still bomb.
Yep, you guessed it. The economy was in the tank. Our show was just weeks after our main competitors’ event and the weather in Chicago was, well, weather in Chicago in November. Plus, this was the first time the association had managed the show solo and competing shows got into a major marketing slug fest with us.
But we also had a lot of great things going for us. The FPSA staff proved to be one of the most hardworking and dedicated client teams we’ve ever worked with. Leading food equipment manufacturers signed up early and signed up big. Our media partners stepped up to the plate and helped us heavily blanket all media with our message.
So we forged ahead and tried to keep the panic level in check. Opening day arrived. Exhibitors were in place, booth staff in their matching polo’s. Security stood ready to dutifully scan badges and thwart covert infiltration of non-registered attendees. Bagpipers played to celebrate this much anticipated day. And . . .
By God, people came!
PROCESS EXPO was named the #1 fastest growing trade show in 2011 by Expo Magazine!! Attendance nearly doubled to 12,732. Sponsor revenue growth rate was off the charts—at 576.43 percent. And exhibitor revenue growth rate surged 153.31 percent.
WHEW! Now I can take trade show marketing off the list of things that scare me. Guess I’ll move on to sky diving.